Going Self-employed

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New Social Media Cover Photo

A few weeks ago, I came to a personal decision.  I had a successful interview in my home to teach individual students with a Norwich-based Homestay company.  If this happens later this year, which seems likely, I will need to be technically self-employed. It got me thinking.. why don’t I simply register myself as self-employed with HMRC and, therefore, be responsible for paying my own tax and NI contributions in future. After a series of job applications, at the end of last year, in which I didn’t hear anything back, I got a bit despondent.  So I thought if no-one else is going to hire me, then I should ‘hire’ myself.  I’ve always been ’employed’, never ‘self-employed’. There are advantages in this change of employment status for me personally.

It is a state of mind.  My own health and well-being has often been adversely affected by being in full-time work with one employer, the pressures of intensive teaching and living away from home.  It is exactly four years to the day that I found myself in a secure unit in King’s Lynn, with little hope and bleak prospects.  It is just over three years since I previously pressed the ‘reset’ button and started volunteering as a teacher for Norwich Mind, the mental health charity. I wrote about my future intentions in November 2013 in a post here.

Variety is the spice of life, so they say.  By taking on 3 or 4 different roles, I can mix up my working life.  Rather than teach regular classes, I will focus on tutoring 1-2-1, mostly in Norwich.  Today, I launch my Facebook page advertising my services.  I believe that I have to start small, build up a reputation once more and work on promoting myself. I will be extrinsically motivated to get involved in different things and to make it sustainable.  I have just started volunteering as an ESOL teacher and mentor with a refugee charity. I also hope to be doing some IT and social media work soon for Mind.  This still leaves me free to teach online and to do some promotional work for the Teacher Training Videos website.

By going self-employed I am regaining control of when and where I work. I can mitigate some of the pressures that caused me to start jobs and not stay in them for long.  I am feeling fairly positive now, buoyed by my decision, but it will take some effort to ‘rebuild’ myself. Especially over the next few weeks as I recover from an unexpected road traffic accident on 4 February, which I walked away from with just a minor fracture of a metacarpal in my left wrist and a badly bruised rib cage.

If you are reading this and live in the Norwich area and would like to have lessons with me or know someone that might be interested, please do not hesitate to get in contact.  My first lesson (meeting) is free and further lessons can be negotiated.  More information can be found on my ‘About’ page on here.  Even if you are not an English student but am interested by my change in employment status, I would really appreciate your support and advice. Especially if you have made this move yourself.

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Birds over Norwich market

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Mind mapping Tools

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Classroom Management Mind Map: Brainstorming ideas for a job interview

This post is about some tools that are available for creating mind maps. These are used widely in education, not exclusively in English language teaching.   I have created tutorial videos for each of the tools.  It also follows on directly from an excellent Business English SIG webinar (see below) given by Ron Morrain, on using mind maps in the classroom, which I attended yesterday.

Mind mapping techniques are used in business for problem solving and decision making. They are used for strategic thinking, giving presentations and used for coaching others. They can help a prospective employee in getting prepared for a job interview, as in my own real example above. For the student, a mind map can be a very useful ‘aide memoire’ to review notes taken in a lecture or for exam revision.  Brainstorming is often done individually or in groups and many mind mapping web tools allow for this to happen collaboratively.  There are some sound reasons for using mind mapping and tools should only really be used if there is some pedagogical benefits.

“The combination of technology, mind mapping, and L2 skills acquisition (reading, writing, speaking, and listening), make for a high energy and very interactive L2 learning experience.” (Ron Morrain interviewed by Phil Wade – here)

This is not one of those posts entitled ’50 mind map tools you must use in class tomorrow’. That kind of list is counter-productive. There are plenty of freely available tools out there, which you can find for yourself, as well as some premium ones.  I’m only going to focus on and compare three in this post.  Each one has its own appeal and I will offer some advantages and disadvantages for each one.

Some available software is highly technical and recommended more for the professional, such as web developers, who need to map out program decision making. FreeMind, for example, is free, premier  mind-mapping software written in Java.   The landing page itself will be enough to put off most people. Similarly, you can expect the inventor of mind mapping, Tony Buzan, to have has his own patented software called iMind Map, currently in its 9th edition. He charges a mere £2495 per person, by the way, to attend one of his courses.

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Free Mind

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iMindMap9

Some considerations when choosing your mind mapping tool:

  • Can it be used offline as well as online?  Is there an app version or a browser plug-in?
  • Is it free or do you need to pay for the full features?
  • How does it look?  The aesthetic appeal is important if you are to export the maps or to use them in presentations.  Beautiful looking mind maps can draw the eye.
  • What templates can you integrate into your design?  These can be useful for saving time and presenting your work in a more visually appealing way.
  • How accessible are they?  Is there an ease of use? Do they improve on using a pen and paper?  Are they quicker?  Do they produce better results?  These matter a lot in rapid brainstorming.
  • Can you collaborate easily?  Another critical feature if you need to work together away from the workplace or classroom.
  • Can you create a flowchart?  Not all of them do this as they don’t allow for directional arrows.
  • Can you cross link information in one part of a mind map to another related part?
  • Are you able to save and share the maps easily?  Is it secure or is there a risk with the particular tool?  This is important as you wouldn’t want to be restricted to downloading your creations in one format.  You may have the option to export a .jpeg or .png image.  An export format like PDF is a good additional option. You may want to integrate your creations into Word, PowerPoint or other software.

I took a closer look at three mind mapping tools out there, which all offer something different from each other. There are links to tutorial videos for each one.

Text2MindMap

Text2MindMap is great for creating quick mind maps from a text list.  Each text line becomes a node in the mind map. A new branch of nodes can be created with an indentation. It is a very simple piece of software, which does not appear to be maintained by its creators.  Indeed, when I used it the security certificate for it had just lapsed.  You can bypass the security warning which comes up in Firefox and Chrome by clicking ‘advanced’ provided you are not entering any personal or sensitive information.

It is a web-based, browser-based tool.  It acts like a spider diagram or a tree, with a ‘root’ being the central topic and ‘branches’ coming off this.  Subsequent branches can be created by adding new levels by indenting text in the window on the left-hand side.

  • Advantages:
  • It’s free.  You don’t need to sign up or pay anything.  There is a pay-for option but I can’t see this makes any difference to the features.
  • It’s simple, quick and easy to use.
  • It converts linear text which can be copied and pasted in from another source, if already indented.
  • You can drag individual text boxes or the whole mind map around the screen.
  • You can edit the colour, text size and general appearance of each ‘branch’ (box) and can do this by branch or level.
  • You can write directly on the connecting ‘nodes’ (lines) – although this doesn’t work that effectively.
  • You can save the mind map or get a URL link for accessing later.
  • Disadvantages:  
  • There is no app version for tablet or desktop.
  • You can’t collaborate with others.
  • It currently has an invalid security certificate, which I address in the videos, so don’t part with any money!
  • The connecting ‘nodes’ are simple lines. You cannot create flowcharts with directional arrows.
  • You can’t add images or shapes.

Popplet

A full set of tutorial videos for using Popplet 

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Popplet is a great-looking tool which has been around since 2010.  It has a large community of users worldwide who share their finished ‘Popplet’ boards in a public area. It is fairly versatile, intuitive and has a very clear and clean design.  It can be used by any age group and there are lots of options to share and work on boards collaboratively.  What I like about this most is the way the mind maps appear.  You can edit individual ‘popples’ (boxes) by colour and have nametags associated with each one – great if students are collaborating.  You can upload or copy images into popples and even add links to Vimeo or YouTube.  In addition, there is a fantastic blog called ‘Poppletrocks!’ which has lots of suggestions for how to use the tool.

There is a version for iPad or tablet which costs £3.99 or a free version called Popplet Lite.

  • Advantages:
  • It’s free to use, but you need to pay for additional features and options, which I would recommended if you are in an educational setting where the institution can pay.
  • It’s intuitive and fun to play around with.
  • Navigation of your board is straight forward with zooming in/out and dragging options.
  • Collaboration is not only supported but actively encouraged.
  • Boards can be set to private or public or shared in a number of ways.
  • There are formatting options, such as grid layout, which you don’t get in many mind mapping tools.
  • Comments can be added to individual ‘popples’.  This could be a teacher’s opinion or can be used to show image references.
  • You can present your board in one of two ways.
  • Adding content is relatively easy, although you might need to download an image first before uploading into the board.
  • You can export to .jpeg or .png or .pdf.  Or directly to a Pinterest board.
  • There is well-maintained blog with useful tips, ideas and a support team (powered by GetSatisfaction) with many existing queries already answered.  They also get back to you very quickly!
  • Disadvantages:  
  • The connecting lines are non editable. You cannot create flowcharts as, like the above tool, there are currently no directional arrows.  You can’t add lines off other lines, either, making family trees difficult – I tried in vain.
  • Adding videos is great but playing them currently brings a minor technical issue about how the video is displayed on the screen, which I address in the tutorials.
  • Adding an image directly from a URL link doesn’t always work.  It depends on the size of the original.  The dialogue box (screenshot below) doesn’t always appear, although I’m told it’s not needed if you copy and paste the link directly into the ‘popple’.adding-an-image-via-url-dialogue-box

There is an introduction (part 1) by Russell Stannard showing you what you can do with Popplet, followed some more detailed videos (part 2) by me here.

Sketchboard.io

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Sketchboard  has an .io domain name, suggesting the name was chosen with ‘input/output’ or a binary system of 1s and 0s, in mind.  It is a very sophisticated piece of software, designed by a Finish computer coder, Saiki Tanabe.  Sketchboard is more of a collaborative whiteboard rather than a dedicated mind mapping program.  It was designed for colleagues to work from remote locations.  It came from his own frustration with software development.  Teams can co-create their visual thoughts using structural sketching. Workspaces are vital for collaboraite brainstorming paired with a good chat app.  You can create boards with endless drawing space by dragging the canvas area. It allows for freehand drawing, ready-made templates and numerous shapes, which can be edited to the user’s specific needs. Like the majority of mind mapping tools, Sketchboard.io also comes with a choice of free and paid plans. The free plan is for 5 users. There is a fantastic Sketchboard user gallery for showing off some fine examples.

The main advantage I found with Sketchboard over the two other two tools is the ability to create flowcharts, because not only are a range of directional arrows allowed, but you can attach these arrows to shapes and drag them around the board effortlessly.  Only single lines or ‘nodes’ are available in Text2MindMap and Popplet.

  • Advantages:
  • It’s free to use to use for public boards.  To have numerous private boards you need to sign up to one of the pricing options.
  • You can add shapes from the on screen ‘toolbox’ plus there is a huge library of existing templates.
  • You can create flowcharts, because there are a range of directional and connecting arrows.
  • It is great for more technical projects as was designed with software or coding in mind.
  • The freehand drawing tool gives you the option to replicate hand-drawn maps.
  • You can create teams for collaborative work and assign admin rights.
  • Boards can be annotated and commented on by team members.
  • Boards can be presented in a visually focused way.
  • Boards can be exported as SVG, PNG and PDF.  Apparently these include a watermark, on a free plan, but I didn’t find this happened.
  • You can also integrate Sketchboard with team tools like Slack, Google Drive, HipChat, GitHub, and FlowDock.
  • Disadvantages:  
  • It might be a little tricky for low level users.
  • You need to have a paid account to embed images from your hard drive.
  • It’s a bit more expensive to have full features compared to other tools, but there are many pricing options.
  • It looks a big messy on mobile:

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Introduction to using Sketchboard

Using the Library

Presentation Mode

Conclusion

Each of the three tools I looked at offer something different.  I liked Popplet’s design and functionality. It is the most appealing, in my opinion, for use in the classroom. However, I really recommend Sketchboard. It is great and you can potentially do more with it, such as creating a family tree or more intricate maps.  It is better, however, for more technically-minded folk, while still not being intended for web developers or professionals, like FreeMind, for example.  The people at Sketchboard have already liked my tutorials, commented on them and have shared links on social media (see below). Text2MindMap is unfortunately let down by the lack of support and its expired certificate.  But it does a decent, basic job, especially if you already have a list of the notes you want to convert.

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This is a longer version of a post that was originally written for the Teacher Training Videos website.

For some beautiful hand drawn designs see Mind Map Art: http://www.mindmapart.com

References:

I looked at these two online articles in researching this topic:

Basu, S. 2015.  ‘8 Free Mind Map Tools & How To Best Use Them’ – http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/8-free-mind-map-tools-best-use/ November 27, 2015

Mind Tools, 2016:  https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_01.htm

Mental Health and ELT

I am starting a conversation about mental health in English Language Teaching.  I am not sure if this has ever been discussed or debated widely within the industry.  In doing so, I am sharing some personal information about my experience of suffering from poor mental health at work. I do this in the hope that other teachers will open up, too, leading to more understanding and support for teachers as workers.  I have never known professional development or training within ELT deal with these kinds of issues. For many, a stigma still exists.  There is still a lot of misunderstanding and ignorance.  It is an ongoing challenge.

In the past, I have volunteered for the mental health charity, Norwich Mind, and am hoping to do something for them again in the near future. I was and still am intrinsically motivated. I also follow the Time To Change campaign which is foremost about ending discrimination, mostly in the workplace, against people who suffer with mental health issues.

I’ve always considered my own issues to be a personal thing, not one of institutional discrimination or workers’ rights. Nonetheless, to coincide with the national Time To Talk day, I’ve been interviewed by Paul Walsh for the Teachers as Workers Special Interest Group (TaWSIG). You can read the interview here.

The image on the right shows a censored version of my diary note (written on 10 October 2016) listing the 11 times since 2006 that poor mental health has impacted on my teaching career, including 2 trips to the IATEFL conference in Liverpool (2013) and Harrogate (2014).  I have redacted the details to protect myself and colleagues who worked with me or were my line managers at the time.

If the post proves to be popular then I might consider the possibility of speaking about it at a conference at a later date.  I’ve never seen this particular topic presented within our profession but am curious to know if it has been.

Please feel free to comment here or on the TaWSIG  site. I promise to personally respond to each and every one that leaves a message.

*update 6 Feb:  The interview post received hundreds of views in a few days. In the week following its publication, it was shared many times on social media. It inspired at least two other bloggers, Sandy Millin and Elly Setterfield to write their own personal responses to coincide with Time to Talk day, including lots of links and resources on this topic.  I was thrilled by the response and hope to follow this up at a later date.  In the meantime, I am planning on approaching Mind once more to see if they have any work for me.

1-2-1 Teaching Tips – an #ELTchat summary

Startup Stock Photos

This is the summary of an #ELTchat which took place on 18 January 2017.  The full topic wording was ‘1-2-1 teaching tips – advice and best practice’.  It was moderated by @Marisa_C and @SueAnnan with @tesolmatthew taking over for the 24 hour slow-burn. Lots of great links and resources were shared during the chat and these are listed at the end of the summary.  A similarly themed topic was previously discussed on 16 February 2011 – see here.  A good introduction to 1-2-1 teaching can be found here.

I was personally interested in this topic because I have taught 1-2-1 before (both paid and as language exchange) and have just started doing so again.  It is very common for English language teachers to tutor students one at a time at some point in their career. Support and resources for doing it are less so.  For many it is a fundamental aspect of their teaching.  It requires a development of strategy, approach and material creation.

Needs Analysis

@SueAnnan kicked things off by stating the importance of doing a Needs Analysis.  You might be surprised by the number of Ts who don’t do it. You also need to revisit it from time to time.  Tailoring and finding the right material is important. @thebestticher stated that she tends to ask 1-2-1 students what topics and language they want as there is more opportunity to personalise.  @fionaljp thought this was vital.  @MConca16 said she always starts with a (structured) conversation class as a diagnostic.

@Marisa_C felt that doing a pretest and/or Needs Analysis was obvious to those participating, so asked who [currently] teaches 1-2-1 and wanted to hear some ideas.

Who teaches 1-2-1?

Most of @SueAnnan’s Business English students are 1-2-1 – both oral and written. They have super interesting jobs. She thinks all levels are interesting and learns as much as her students sometimes.

@MConca16 said she did 1-2-1 as well as 2-2-1 exam preparation. @fionaljp said she wasn’t but needed to give advice to those who may. @TeresaBestwick didn’t have any either, while @teacherphili said he was about to start again soon, but had previously focused on exam preparation as well as one young Chinese learner who mostly played games and did pronunciation practice.

@David_Boughton stated that he likes the two ends of the spectrum, basic or very advanced.  He finds the classic intermediates work so much better in group classes. Most of the activities out there are for them.  @Marisa_C felt any age is suitable but activities are very different with young learners – mostly play.

@fionaljp said she asked them to bring in texts of interest for discussion, to summarise and explain interest.  Local newspapers provide material suggested @SueAnnan.

There was general consensus that you can’t switch off in 1-2-1.  It can be more tiring. You can’t set pair work. @fwalkerbcn said that you have to be on the ball, and be prepared to change the lesson plan on the spot. @thebestticher said she often tends to ask 1-2-1 students what they want – both topics and language – as there is more opportunity to personalise…@joannacre agreed, saying she often changes her lesson plan based on what her learner wants. It’s easier to do this with 1-2-1.

@SueAnan said that if students bring work with them, they can become the teacher as they explain it, which is good for presentation practice. @thebestticher found that 1-2-1 young learners like to ‘be the teacher’ otherwise interaction is intense. It is a good idea to walk away or do another task  while the student is working to make it less so.  Or give them a research or listening task, added @Marisa_C. @fwalkerbcn felt this was difficult if you were in their living room, but you can always do something else to break it up, said Marisa_C . @fwalkerbcn hadn’t really found this as her classes were not long anyway. @MConca said that time is money …  she doesn’t ‘waste’ time for quiet individual work or written feedback.

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@Marisa_C said they give them lists of extra listening and reading to do as self access and asked if anyone else tried this. @MConca16 replied ‘self-access practice for general English 1-2-1. [For] exam prep, she does a few with them for exam strategy then switch[es] to self-access.’

A popular blog post on eflrecipes (Jonny Ingham) was highlighted by @fionaljp.  In this the author says that the less structured approach can benefit from is “a good amount of overt feedback and error correction. One approach is for the teacher to take notes throughout the lesson on new language and areas of difficulty.”

Teacher Talking Time

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Teacher Talking Time was a concern for @David_Boughton.  He asked how it can be kept down in 1-2-1.  Did we care as much as a group class?  @teacherphili said good planning. Silence & processing time is important, too.  @David_broughton liked that. We probably are more likely to cut the processing time shorter in 1-2-1. It’s just natural, he replied. @Marisa_C said it was difficult because the teacher is the only interlocutor. It’s very easy to get carried away with TTT.  @joannacre said she makes her students do most of the reading, text and theories etc then comment on stuff.

@SueAnnan asked if  the participants do roleplays or simulations when you have to play a part? @David_Boughton replied ‘All the time. My favourite thing to do in 1-2-1. You have more control, so they often go much better.’  Role-plays are essential, according to @MConca16, especially when you’ve taught a student for years and need new stuff.

Tech

@Marisa_C asked the chatters if they blended their 1-2-1 classes at all? even f-2-f classes do u flip or assign online work? She said Russell Stannard presented on her Delta course how to use Edmodo and it’s great.  She wasn’t previously aware of all its functions. @fionaljp said she was going to use it next week. @fwalkerbcn said her students watched TED Talks before class.  She also uses Edmodo for online quizzes, etc and asked if anyone else uses it for 1-2-1?  @Marisa_C said not but they did use wikis, often dedicated to one student. @MConca16 used emails for writing tasks and marking/feedback. She added that reasons for 1-2-1 students to ask for individual courses is to have a real person to practise language orally with & get feedback. @SueAnnan felt they don’t want much tech. @David_Boughton agreed, saying that tech can take away from what they signed up for, namely access to a teacher.

off2class-tweet@thebestticher mentioned Off2Class, which offers an online placement test and games which she is planning to start investigating. @fwalkerbcn said Off2Class is fantastic. She uses it a lot with my 1-2-1 classes and is great for online use. It’s well worth exploring. They’re always updating- if you need a topic, they do their best to create a class for it, she added.

Tools

@Marisa_C asked what tools were used to engage your 1-2-1 adult vs 1-2-1 young learners. Listening are perhaps issues for Ts.  Audioboom and Vocaroo were mentioned by @fionaljp, who also offered two recording tools – Audioboom, Vocaroo – which still exist, unlike Voxopop which appears to have finished.

@SueAnnan used podcasts. There are some great podcasts available from BBC world service.  @joannacre pointed out that Harvard review org has some good free podcasts for adult learners. Later on, @rapple18 said Harvard has GREAT stuff inc. both reading, text and audio. @tesolmatthew added later that an ongoing podcast would be great.

MConca16 said that @tablets & mobiles phone for teens work as motivators. @fwalkerbcn stated that linguahouse  and OneStopEnglish have great lesson plans for adults.

@Marisa_C offered several more tools during the chat, including @educreations, Voice Thread (for connecting more than one student), Schoology, Voxi, Explain Everything and Show Me. She mentioned in-browser apps such as Google docs or Primary Pad for collaborative writing and gave a shout out for the prolific Sean Banville (who was given a mention in the previous weeks’ chat).

@SueAnnan said she liked working with English Central, which students can do at home and improve pronunciation, but the latter feature could be improved according to @Marisa_C.  @fwalkercbn said she never really got on with it.  @SueAnnan added that it works well when they do it as blended stuff. @tesolmatthew was impressed with the way the tool works.  The principle of isolating and highlighting phrases is one that appealed to @Marisa_C.

@David_Boughton said he had used English360 for a few years with a school he worked for. Although a lot of the resources are not useful. You only pay for the student – but there are LOADS of resources available, added Marisa_C. @David_Boughton added that he built out about 6 levels worth of courses. It must have been 100s of hours. @Marisa_C said it was an opportunity [for] long turn speaking activities, like storyboard karaoke and board games.

Slow burn

In the slow burn, @rapple18 added her thoughts. Her list includes must-haves: a phone (=diary, map, aud/vid recorder), A3, coloured pens, today’s newspaper, relevant article, rods.  She always try to add 3rd dimension to break the teacher-student eye-contact line, eg postits, cards, A3, ie lots hands-on activities. Student has goal e.g. a conference presentation. On a recent 12wk course: videoed a presentation at work. 1st. Input: personal’d+focused. Motivation high.  If 1-2-1 ESP (re motivating the T!) use as opportunity to learn about student’s area of speciality. Can be bizarre but rewarding and fun!  She also linked to material she wrote for OUP.

@tesolmatthew said that his most involved ‘1-2-1 teaching happened +/-8 months, 2014. Met a Thai eye doctor in residence @ Boston hospital 2ce/wk for 2rs. Something we did was we wrote into the same notebook, sat very close, both wrote in, so prez+notes = same.’ Examples here.  He also believed that it can be EASIER to keep TTT down in the 1-2-1 context, using prompt-listen-respond-prompt sequence etc.

During the slow-burn @joannacre posted her 200th blog post about ‘websites, videos & random stuff I use in class’ which has some relevance.

Conclusion

This was a great chat with lots of ideas and resources shared.  It is one that I will come back to, along with the previous #ELTchat on this topic, as I do more 1-2-1 teaching myself.  There were lots of tools and resources – links listed below.  I have consistently used the phrase ‘1-2-1’ to mean ‘one to one’ although for brevity some participants used ‘1-1’ in the chat.  If you have any more ideas or thoughts please add a comment below.

Participants who were present and/or tweeted during the chat, alongside the moderators:

David__Boughton@fionaljp, @thebestticher, @fwalkerbcn@teachingright, @TeresaBestwick, @MConca16, @joannacre, @teacherphili, @bar_zie, @aahk888, @amauryrez, @SerraRoseli  and @rapple18.

Links and tools shared during the chat:

Appleby, R, Bradley, J. Brennan, B, Hudson J, Leeke, N and Scrivener, J. Business one:one Intermediate Plus. Oxford University Press. http://bit.ly/2jNe8ym

BBC Learning English  http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/

Educreations – https://www.educreations.com/

English 360 – http://english360.com/

English Central – https://www.englishcentral.com/videos#/anonymous-player

English File (Oxford University Press) – http://bit.ly/1wHPqR5

Explain Everything – http://appcrawlr.com/ipad/explain-everything

Harvard Review Org (podcasts for adult learners) e.g. ‘Productivity Secrets of a Very Busy Man Harvard Business Review’. 7 Apr 2011.  http://bit.ly/2kgHDcB  and http://bit.ly/2j1c01S

Ingham, J. 3 May 2015. Recipes for the EFL classroom: ‘My one-to-one students just wants to chat’. https://eflrecipes.com/2015/05/03/one-to-one/

Kaye, P. 18 July 2007. British Council ‘Teaching one to one’.   https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/teaching-one-one

Linguahouse – http://www.linguahouse.com/

Off2Class – The ESL Teacher Toolkit https://www.off2class.com/

One Stop English – http://bit.ly/1rrXu7e

PechaFlickr – http://pechaflickr.net/

Primary Pad – http://primarypad.com/

Sean Banville‘s many websites including Breaking News English http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/index.html

Show Me – http://www.showme.com/

VoiceThread – http://voicethread.com/

Voki (for young learners) – http://www.voki.com/

cover image: ‘one to one teaching’ from startupstockphotos.com – reproduced under a CCO licence.
– 22 January 2017

tutoring

Teaching Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice Issues

This is the summary of an #ELTchat which took place on 23 November 2016.  It is the first summary I have contributed for over two years. It was moderated, expertly as always, by @Marisa_C, @SueAnnan and @angelos_bollas.

The full topic wording, proposed by current IATEFL president, Marjorie Rosenberg (@MarjorieRosenbe), was ‘How can we discuss diversity, inclusivity and social justice in the classroom in times as these?  

Marjorie shared many examples of reasons for the topic proposal with me outside of the chat: Brexit (the UK’s vote to leave the EU), the refugee crisis in Europe, the election of Donald Trump in the US, general division in the UK and US, and the rise of far-right groups, especially in Austria, where she is based. Her family has a strong background in public service. Her cousin is in the Obama administration and his wife founded a charity in Washington for underprivileged teenagers.  Her mother volunteered for years for several casues and this is one of the reasons she originally got involved in IATEFL – in order to give something back. Marjorie also highlighted a  forthcoming plenary by JJ Wilson at the next IATEFL conference in Glasgow 2017 on this very topic.

@SueAnnan led the discussion by stating that she teaches diversity in her Business English class.  Both @angelos_bollas and myself (@teacherphili) stated that it was not something they explicitly taught and asked how Sue includes this in BE classes? She replied that she does scenarios for employment roles. We discuss black, women, different religious, disabled and LGBTQ applicants and such like, she stated.  It gets the class started. She suggested that dealing with diversity actually meant discussing inclusivity at the same time.   She stated that her classes are always mixed, [so] tolerance is an absolute must. She later added that she has been discussing the recent cryogenics case in the UK. She had a class of doctors who were dead against it.

@fionaljp felt diversity is, maybe, more about what you do. @GlynsHanson agreed before adding that it depends on age of the students too.  She didn’t assume that she knew more on these subjects than her mainly adult students. Except for preparing TOEFL etc, her students chose the subjects – almost never the ‘hot’ subjects.  She added that she hadn’t had enough time for discussing the ‘big’ questions [of social justice].

marjorie_rosenbe

@MarjorieRosenbe stated she had her students talk about things important to them. We had lots of refugees here in Austria, for example.  She covered these topics by talking about traditions, holidays, etc. My students opened up a lot and explained personal things.

@Chris_Myth said it can be hard. He sometimes get students with prejudiced views. ‘Do I argue with them for the sake of challenging prejudice’, he asked, ‘or do I take a teacher role where the teacher is not an authoritarian figure and students can speak without fear?’. @Angelos Bollas answered that it is very important for teachers to model what freedom of speech is – the teacher should monitor though and deal with sensitive issues. @Chris_Myth agreed and added that ‘if a student is being sexist/racist, then that could upset others, which shouldn’t be allowed to pass.’  Phil Bird (@pysproblem81) asked, that in some contexts, wouldn’t it be a legal requirement to challenge it?@Chris_Myth said that in the UK it is now a legal requirement to report potential terrorist sympathies. Whatever that means. @Angelos Bollas said that ‘also the opposite [applies] … some countries/institutions would not allow any discussions on these topics – sad. I think it boils down to what each thinks important: doing as said or what one thinks is right,’ he added. Fortunately, for @Chris_Myth, whenever this [prejudice] has happened, usually sexism, other students have argued against the prejudice.  If a student is being sexist/racist, then that could upset others, which shouldn’t be allowed to pass.

@TesolMatthew emphasised that, in his opinion, diversity, inclusivity and social justice are ON THE TABLE in all classrooms.

tesolmatthew

@Marisa_C agreed with this but, playing devil’s advocate,  said that some teachers think it is not their job to take care of such issues.  Maybe it’s more about promoting, offered @fionaljp.   @GlenysHanson tried to stoke a political fire by saying that she adored playing devil’s advocate, offering the suggestion that ‘I voted for Trump because of his hairstyle’. 😇 Something that neither @SueAnnan nor @angelos_bollas  could manage to say, even on a good day.  A role play with Trump, however, would be fab, according to @Marisa_C.

@MarjorieRosenbe pointed out that, in respect of the US election, TESOL has a statement about it on their website. It could be discussed with students or trainees. @SueAnnan thought that IATEFL did something similar. However, IATEFL is not an advocacy organisation the way that TESOL is, added Marjorie. We wrote to members after BREXIT about our goals.  Marjorie also referred participants (trainees) to the recent joint IATEFL-TESOL web conference where ‘we walked the talk’.

@Marisa_C proposed that some people think modelling these behaviours is better than preaching and asked if the participants agreed. Does this work with all kinds of contexts? To which @angelos_bollas answered ‘Absolutely. [It’s] still important to highlight them in class, isn’t it?  Especially now? Given [the election of] Trump and extreme right wing parties.’  @fionaljp thought it was good to include authentic material -news items for sure. To which Angelos replied that it opens up some room for learners to express their ideas re current events.

@Marisa_C later added that she thinks tolerance, justice, empathy, inclusion are won with knowledge, not the lack of it. To which, @MarjorieRosenbe agreed totally. Marisa added that she was inspired to do this by one idea Mario Rinvolucri used to do – called absent observations. In which one teacher taught the lesson but a DIFFerent teacher took and answered feedback on this lesson. She thought it was crazy at first but it really works in a TP group.

chris_myth

@Chris_Myth believed that ELT materials were very good for some diversity issues but not for LGTB inclusivity.  @angelos_bollas said that there are no LGBTW (sic) references in global coursebooks – only in Germany.  Chris responded that it is our duty, therefore, to talk about LGBTW issues in class or use texts with people from those backgrounds, or to make additional material, according to @SueAnnan.  Angelos replied that we should push publishers to start including all people equally.   @TesolMatthew said all of these, and confessed that he had teared up at the sight of Ellen DeGeneres receiving a medal of honor.  @MarjorieRosenbe said that advanced students can talk about news they hear or read and give opinions. They have to stay polite to all. @Chris_Myth concurred, but at lower levels it is easy to miss the mark from a lack of language and say bigoted sounding things.

Sadeqa Ghazal (@sadeqaghazal) asked how do we handle it if a text in a coursebook is biased? Both @fionaljp and @Chris_Myth said ‘don’t use it’, but, unfortunately for her there is no choice. @Chris_Myth added that you can get students to notice it as a critical thinking exercise. @MarjorieRosenbe stated that she likes the idea of this. Her Austrian students learned so much about different cultures from the others, it was eye-opening, she added.

@sadeqaghazal also asked if any of [the participants] teach classes where all the students are of the same community or background?  To which @angelos_bollas replied that he used to.  What can be some of the ways to make these students aware of a diverse world? asked @sadeqaghazal.  I used – a) role play, b) reading or watching about different cultures, followed by c) discussions among the students. Angelos replied that role-plays are always good for that matter. @MarjorieRosenbe commented that role plays with students taking opposite opinion from what they really believe can build tolerance. @GlenysHanson thought that Jesuits invented arguing for what one doesn’t believe. She was not sure that their aim was to build tolerance, however.

There was only one comment – a screenshot – left in the 24 hour slow burn, from @TesolMatthew, who said this was somewhat relevant:

tesolmatthew-cambridge-elt

This was a very interesting and topical #ELTchat, which demanded opinions.  As Wilson’s plenary next year will seemingly argue – teaching is never neutral.  Teachers advocate certain values. These values depend on one’s beliefs, conception of education and the teacher’s role. Some believe that all teachers should use their creativity and passion to bring about social change.

I hope I have done this chat (ahem!) justice. As I often find with these kinds of summaries there is a risk of decoupling – that is taking a reply out of context or to dissociate it from the original question asked. Please add a comment if you think this is the case or if you have been misquoted and want to clarify what you said.

Links shared during the chat as follows:

@SueAnnan – The No Project https://t.co/4aVaIUxgQo

@fionaljp shared this on using awareness raising activities on initial teacher training courses to tackle ‘native speakerism‘: http://bit.ly/2fxx29L

@Marisa_C shared two readings:

(1) Developing Teachers As Agents Of Social Justice Nataša Pantić & Lani Florian http://www.education-inquiry.net/index.php/edui/article/view/27311 https://t.co/EvDe0yTlUt

(2) This British Columbia booklet called ‘Making space : teaching for diversity and social justice throughout the K-12 curriculum’ has a great questionnaire on pages 13 & 14 bit.ly/2fGfFBc

@MarjorieRosenbe shared a book – Thirty Games for Social Change by  Dorothy Zemach | Wayzgoose Press http://wayzgoosepress.com/books/thirty-games-for-social-change/

The joint IATEFL-TESOL web conference: 2016: http://conference.iatefl.org/webconference/index.html  (note: recordings only available to members after 30 November)

Greetings from Bahrain

 

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Bahrain City Centre Mall, viewed from 27th floor of S Hotel, Manama.

Greetings from Bahrain, where I arrived on Saturday 24 September.

This is my first proper blog post for over two years.  OK, I did post briefly about the 50th IATEFL conference in April this year but have since deleted it.  Since then I have taught Chinese students online, mostly IELTS speaking test preparation.  This was an interesting experience but not one I wrote about on here.  I can see myself teaching again online in the not to distant future.  But I had the urge to go abroad again as I have not retired from being in the classroom or travelling to work.

So now I’m ready for my next adventure in ELT, at an esg vocational college in Al-Quaiwaiyyah, right in the centre of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  I was interviewed for the position on 16 August and accepted an offer three days later.  This relatively new college was built as part of the ‘colleges of excellence’ initiative in the Kingdom, and the parent company is Interserve, a large UK-based FTSE250 construction company, support services and facilities management provider.  There is a large requirement for a rigorous, comprehensive set of ESL lesson plans and scheme of work, in collaboration with colleagues, with a western testing system (Cambridge) and inspection by Ofsted (or equivalent).  The students are relatively low level. It will be a challenge for sure. I hope to post more about it when I get settled, subject to the terms of my contract.

I have been looking into a return to KSA since last December. I taught at King Saud University in Riyadh in 2010 and 2011. I was inspired by Kim Chibou and Luke Phillips, two great friends I first met at the Barron hotel in Riyadh and who returned to work in the country this year, both for around three months.

esg  (Interserve) Al-Q is not the original position I was interviewed for at the Hilton, Park Lane, back in January and had a medical for in April. It took too long, however, for the University of Dammam to organise my mobilisation and I, therefore, sought alternative employment.

On Saturday, I felt jet lagged, not having slept at all on the overnight flight from Heathrow.  I checked in to a hotel in Manama and later met up at Bahrain city centre mall with British Council Bahrain teacher, self-proclaimed ICT specialist and games-based learning enthusiast, David Dodgson.  It was the first time we had met in the flesh after four years of online friendship.  I left my passport at reception for collection the next day.

On Sunday, I met up with a guy who worked for Interserve for 21 years and was getting a visitor visa to work in Riyadh.  I also thankfully met Andrew, a Glaswegian, who is the other new recruit for esg at Al-Quaiwaiyyah. He has been teaching most recently in Seville, and was only interviewed for the role on 5 September.  He arrived in Bahrain one day later than me, via Glasgow and Dubai, so while I was experiencing jet lag on the Saturday, he was going through it on the day we visited the embassy to sort out documentation. We both had our stay in Bahrain extended to allow time for the visa agent to return our passports.

On Monday, I had a swim, went to the mall one last time for lunch and waited for my passport to be returned  It finally came, via the agent, at 8pm local time, leaving me all clear to board a Saudia Airline direct flight to Riyadh the next day.

How to get Copyright Free Images

Following the news that Getty Images have just taken the decision to allow images (1) on its site available for bloggers to use for free, I thought it would be timely to look at the issue of digital image copyright on the Internet and where you can find copyright free photos and images that you can use to illustrate your blog or other online material which can be seen by anyone.

It’s a massive change of direction from the company, which had previously developed a reputation for being litigious about unlicensed use of its photography, suing small organisations for infringement.  Getty has not been able to stop people using and redistributing its images without permission, so it is adopting a more pragmatic approach to the question of how to make money from its images.

Using Getty’s new embed feature, bloggers can now take a photo from the world’s largest stock photo agency’s collection, such as the one of Usain Bolt above, and include it free of charge on social media.  This can be done without fear of litigation, provided it is for non-commercial use. Users can choose from art-directed creative images or editorial images which includes sports events, fashion shows and celebrity gatherings like the Oscars.  The company has made somewhere in the region of 59 million images, of which over half – 32,739,741 – have been made available through the new tool.  Images can now be shared on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.  Not all of these images can be downloaded by right-clicking on the image, without the watermark, and the intention may that editing and remixing is not being encouraged.  For more information on the how to use Getty’s embed code click here and for a link to those 32,739,741 images* which can be embedded click here.

Getty Embed Icon  means it can be used

Getty Embed Icon </> means it can be used for free

While this is good news for bloggers, it is not a universally loved decision because of the large number of photographers who have already submitted their photos and make a living out of selling their snaps to the agency.  According to Getty Images executive Craig Peters:

“The principle is to turn what’s infringing use with good intentions, turning that into something that’s valid licensed use with some benefits going back to the photographer” (2)

Some pay-for image sites, such as Shutterstockrequire a subscription to get the best deal or have time limits applied to the images, such as with Cartoon Stock.  Another site, an image marketplace called Picfair, charges variable amounts for each photo depending on whatever their contributors has asked for, with a small commission (20%) each time. Sites like Picfair have lovely, straightforward licensing agreements, with clear instructions on what you can and can’t do with the images.  They are reasonable and ‘fair’ to both parties. But they are not free and are often for single use only.

Benji Lanyado, Picfair’s founder, says Getty’s motivation is clear:

“People who were previously not paying for Getty images, and were never going to… now do not need to pay for Getty images. Instead of chasing infringers, Getty is offering them a deal.” (3)

All images are effectively owned by someone.  At some point they have all been created. Nearly all creative works are copyrighted. Many photographers deliberately take pictures for sale, in the same way that an artist paints pictures in order to make a living.  So how do you respect a photographer’s work?

In theory you have to ask the owner, or producer of the original image, and would need to ask for permission to use it.  But this is often not feasible or practical.  Quite often, we do not need to know who produced the original image and there appears to be no copyright warning attached to it.  We might think it is ‘fair game’ to use an unattributed image.  ‘Fair game’ has no legal weight behind it, however, and this differs from ‘fair use’, which does cover a limited set of legitimate uses. ‘Fair Use’ covers the use of images where there is a necessity to be able to use an image to complement or illustrate something such as, for example, a critique or review.  Wikipedia operates under a fair use policy for its reproduction of otherwise copyrighted images, often low resolution ones.  Correct interpretation of ‘fair use’ would state that permission does not have to be sought for reproduction of small sections or for limited distribution.

There are a number of misconceptions or myths about both copyright and fair use, which have already been thoroughly analysed and debunked in this post by Sue Lyon-Jones of The EdTech Hub. Take this myth, for example about educational purposes and ‘fair use’:

Sue Lyon-Jones on the EdTech Hub - http://bit.ly/1cENfEH

Sue Lyon-Jones on The EdTech Hub – http://bit.ly/1cENfEH (4)

Another common mistaken belief is that if the user is not making any money out of using the image then it is OK to do whatever they want with it.  That does not, in theory at least, prevent a potential claim for copyright.  Organisations have been sued where images have been re-used without permission.

Another common mistaken practice is to use the image and simply to credit the source. Quite often this source is neither the original source nor the owner or copyright holder.  Just doing a Google Image search for an ‘open door’ will bring up a lot of lovely images which have been ‘borrowed’, for use on numerous blogs, seemingly without permission.

So what if you want a free, non-copyrighted image, as most individuals do, for a blog, which you can re-use how you want to, without any worry about restrictions and without the hassle of taking the photo yourself?  You need to use images which are already copyright free or where permission to re-use has already been granted, which will normally cover use for non-commercial purposes.

There are a number of sites available and a selection are mentioned below. Each have their own particular licencing terms. If the photos have a Creative Commons license, the original creator specifically designates what they want to be done with their original work, and they’ll choose the right license to let you know what you can do with it.  Most of these sites have a download option, although a simple right-click on any image and ‘save image as’ will usually be sufficient:

  • As I stated in my previous post, the Flickr-based #ELTpics is a great resource for original photographs, with over 17,000 uploaded. It is mostly used by language teachers to offer free-to-use photos to other language teachers around the world.  All the photos have an attribution non-commercial licence. You can use the photos provided you acknowledge or attribute the source.  I have just recorded some screencasts for Teacher Training Videos and here is the link.

eltpics banner

  • Compfight is a Flickr search tool but is not affiliated with the Yahoo-owned site. It has access to millions of images from Flickr, although many are restricted. You can search by all types of licence, by creative commons or by commercial licence. Central to the Compfight experience is the number of filters and options available to search with. You can search by ‘tag’, ‘all text’, ‘licence’, ‘creative commons’, ‘commercial’, ‘safe search’ and ‘show/hide originals’.   Clicking on an image shows the specific CC licence.  You can copy and paste an embed code which will show the correct attribution. It contains a sponsored link to Shutterstock.
  • Photo Credit: Konstantin Lazorkin via Compfight cc

    Photo Credit: Konstantin Lazorkin via Compfight cc

  • FreeFoto.com is made up of 132549 images with 183 sections organized into 3640 categories. Non-commercial users may download their web size images to used off-line. Basically if your off-line use is not commercial you can download their web size images for free. Each photo comes with an option to either download, licence (unrestricted paid-for) or share (embed). Each image is catergorised – for example, strawberries (see below) comes under ‘fruit 1’ and shown alongside similar categories, for example, other types of food. It also contains sponsored links to Shutterstock and many of the better, more professional photos come from there. Anyone, by which they mean commercial and non-commercial alike, can use the images in an online setting, providing they provide attribution to the image and a link back to FreeFoto.com.  Online use is covered by the Creative Commons license for non-commercial, no derivatives, attribution license.

Photo: Strawberries by Ian Britton – cc FreeFoto.com

  • Morgue File – Images are not only free in this excellent resource but often do not require full attribution. You can do a quick search with this resource and bring up information about each photo quickly.  The  images are provided with free usage rights. A search for ‘piano’ (see below) is typical of what is available.  The image can be copied, distributed, and adapted. You are prohibited using the images in a stand alone manner, for example, exhibiting the image as if it is your own. The photographer is credited along with the date when the image was uploaded.  You can easily search for other images by that photographer or by keyword.  The image URL is also clearly shown and there are links to posting directly onto social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest).  There are links to i Stock / Getty Images, which may have been very recently added. Either way, these images work the same as the Getty Images above.  There are also links to paid-for stock image services, Dreamstime and Fotolia. It also has a section called ‘ops’ which, similar to #ELTpics, are uploads using a particular hashtagged theme, plus there is a community and instructional lessons on taking good photos.
Piano #49 Whale Song

Piano #49 Whale Song by Earl53 cc Morgue File

  • Open Photo has a clear display with ‘photo of the day’ and some featured pictures. Items can be searched for by subject or by keyword.  Opening up a set will also display other keyword search options.  Each photo has the uploader’s name clearly shown below, as well as very clear information on what creative commons rights have been granted and what you are allowed to do.  You need to right-click and save image as to get a copy.  For the image below, which is a typical example, an attribution non-commercial NoDerivs 3.0 Unported licence applies, which means you must attribute the source, it must be non-commercial purposes, but it cannot be used if it is remixed or transformed.  The licence code usually needs to be copied as well as proper attribution shown.
Untitled Flower by Antonello Michele Mastinu

Untitled by Antonello Michele Mastinu for openphoto.net

  • Image*After is not just about photos.  It also includes textures.   The image sizes are quite large.  There are numerous ways to search, via subject, texture or keyword. Although, initially, it does not appear as user-friendly, the quality of the images and the comparative freedoms to do what you like with the images marks this resource out as an excellent option.  You do not have to attribute, such as with the ‘glass’ textured image below.  In fact, there is no creator named.  Under its terms of use you can actually modify the images and textures, can use them for commercial purposes and can redistribute or sell the images as part of printed work. There are adverts for Shutterstock but these are clearly marked above and below the free images.
  • b19glass010

There are already some screencasts by Russell Stannard on Teacher Training Videos, about the last three, along with his own discussion about copyright and creative commons, as well as two further sources, Public Domain Pictures and Wikimedia Commons.

Of course, if you are ever in doubt and want to really illustrate your blog with an original photo then you could always use one which have gone and taken yourself.

Beach Road (28) - Sepia edit

‘Seagulls taking off’ by Phil Longwell. Taken 8 March 2014.

*as of 10 March 2014.

References:

(1) BBC News, 2014. Getty makes 35m photos free to use. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-26463886. Accessed 8 March 2014.

(2) Brandom, Russell, 2014. The world’s largest photo service just made its pictures free to use. The Verge. Available at: http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/5/5475202/getty-images-made-its-pictures-free-to-use. Accessed 8 March 2014.

(3) Hern, A. 2014. Photographers warn of ‘cynical’ move by Getty to provide free pictures. The Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/07/photographers-getty-images. Accessed 8 March 2014.

(4) Lyon-Jones, S. 2012. Copyrights or Copy Wrongs? Available at: http://www.edtech-hub.com/index.php/copyrights-or-copy-wrongs/. Accessed 8 March 2014.